It's Popty-Ping week here at Third Outing, and so we take a look at the four records released from the colourful series so far. They're all very different, though each has its own charm. So, check out the Welsh country's next gen of Indie bands a la Popty-Ping...
Shy and the Fight
First up is Shy and their vibrant release All That We See Or See / Breaks. The first is a powerful building ballad with great use of instrumentation. The music style itself is like a progressive folk hybrid which catches the imagination of pop music. Having seven band members helps, too. But the real standout is Breaks. The wonderful guitar melts with string accompaniment, and the melody pushes the imagination further.
The magic Mowbird are up next with their body bending Indie Rock 'n' Roll. From the Happy Active Horse Organ / Carousel release, the first absolutely gets us going. Mowbird truly deliver a fresh sound with their unique "cosmic garage" on this one. Carousel is a little more typical but still sings a punk anthem proudly, and regardless of snything proves that the group from Wrexham have got it going.
What a signing for Popty-Ping with this time-defying beauty. Hummingbird / Sofia is miniature fuzz release skill-ranking alongside the Supergrass' of the world. Hummingbird is our favourite of the two partly for the sweetness in melody sung, partly because we now can't stop singing it. Sofia is slightly different in its approach; more of a slower moving ballad, though still worth of the Trecco Beis badge.
Which means last but not least, the wonderful Gintis. Dennis / Oh My Little Malcontent is an intriguing release, and indeed the one that made us get in touch with Popty in the first place! You'll listen to Dennis and transport immediately to a heavenly worldy combination of Teenage Fanclub and The Beatles.
But then oddly, they sound like neither. For us Gintis are the most complete group from the series to date. Luckily their other releases can be found on Soundcloud, though admittedly lacking in new-releases.
Today we aim to tackle one simple question. What is the best song to have ever come out of Wales? And we're going to answer it simply. Of course yes it's by Super Furry Animals, but is it the one you're thinking?
I get it, yes. There's loads to choose from. Tom Jones and Ms Bassey will feel hard done by (thanks for reading). Stereophonics, well that was never going to happen. Goldie Lookin Chain got a consideration, and well Cerys just does radio shows now right? It can only leave us with one of the greatest Rock 'n' Roll bands of all time and definitely the greatest to come out of Wales...the capital's own Super Furry Animals. So without further ado, here's our favourite track of theirs, and therefore the best one to come out of Wales too...Hometown Unicorn. Are we right? Let us know @thirdouting.
Popty-Ping week concludes tomorrow.
This is the story of Philadelphia band Ruby Keeler, perhaps the last great undiscovered band of the late 90's. 3rd Outing discovers the story of what could have been...
When you first listen to Dotti Hoffman on the second Ruby Keeler record They'll Build a Neighborhood Where Your City Stood, two things should instantly come to mind. First, there's a certain Pavement felling here. Second, it screams Indie Rock and Roll at its best (two elements we pine for here at 3rd Outing, but we shall not not dwell upon that)! Here's the story...
It's late 2000. One year before The Strokes roll up and bring guitar groups "back" to the forefront of music. Ruby Keeler have already released a début record Shiver Shiver, and have gained the attention of the local newspapers. They're a good Rock band, and their first LP is more than a decent first effort. Is it outstanding? No. Is it very, very promising? Yes. The perfect blend of Punk, Grunge and Indie Rock elements. Ruby Keeler are going to get bigger.
"The Philly Weekly was especially good to us. Their best writer gave our first record an over-the-top review that really helped."
Soon after Ruby Keeler started working on the follow-up record, returning more confident, ready to show the world who they (really) are. But the second outing never released. A disagreement about who they were going to record with ensued and it signaled the end. That's until now. Jagged Skyline, a record label based in East Midlands, have just released a collection of songs and demos from that time, a collection which shows just how good Ruby Keeler could have been.
They'll Build a Neighborhood Where Your City Stood is a proudly imperfect album which remains flawless. It sounds madder, weirder and a whole lot bolder than their first record. They clearly upped their game, and made the progression needed in that all important second release. It portrays a band too lazy to Rock, fluttering with resigned melodies, sending out a laid back message with a certain coolness attached to it. The kind of attitude lacking from too many bands.
"There are a lot of terrible bands, but there are also lots of great bands not many people have heard of."
Now, here's the question which unfortunately cannot be answered: could this record have been the one that would have changed everything for the band? The one which would have helped the band gain a wider audience? Maybe. We can't answer that. But Jeremy from Ruby Keeler has kindly answered some questions which might help shine a light on the matter. Here's the interview...
Do you think that if They'll Build a Neighborhood Where Your City Stood came out in 2000, the band would have gained wider success? // Who can say? I think what really would have tipped the scales was not one record, but instead if there'd been a local label or some other para-musical institution (like a super good zine) which would have acted like a center of gravity for all the disparate bands, the way Merge did in North Carolina. When I lived in the UK I used to buy Sounds, NME, and Melody Maker every week and it was intense how complete a view you could get of the entire UK just from reading those but it seemed like they reviewed every gig and said nothing of the records.
Did you get any recognition from your first releases?
Sure, print medias, especially the local free weeklies. They were a big thing and we would usually get some kind of a write up in places when we were on tour. The Philly Weekly was especially good to us. Their best writer gave our first record an over-the-top review that really helped.
Jeremy, we'd like to know. How come you're not more famous? I mean, your music is fantastic. So what happened? // Well, thanks, but I don't know. You know, there are a lot of terrible bands, but there are also lots of great bands not many people have heard of.
Why did They'll Build a Neighborhood Where Your City Stood never come out? // We had a disagreement about who we were going to get to record it. The first two songs were a 7" we put out, but the rest are demos we did on the fly.
This performance on Chic-A-Go-Go is pretty funny. Do you remember it well? // For sure, Chic-A-Go-Go is a great institution. One thing you don't see on that clip is that the show is co-hosted by a rat puppet named Ratso! They did a whole episode of the show that was a spoof of Behind the Music telling Ratso's story; when Ratso bottoms out it's because he talked his friend, a French frog puppet, to sell his legs to a restaurant so they can go buy ice cream.
When Chic-A-Go-Go came through Philly a few years later I got to do the camera when Ratso interviewed Art Brut and Gil Mantero's Party Dream at their show at the First Unitarian Church. Both bands were total naturals being interviewed by a rat puppet, by the way, which was really impressive. And Gil Mantera's Party Dream were eating crappy gas station hoagies throughout their set. That was very memorable.
Photography by Ben Davis©
Pope are back. Third Outing's best Louisiana rockers return with the new release True Talent Champion out on Community Records on November 3rd. But how exactly have the Known Weed Smokers developed in the last 2 years, and are they now there?
Pope have always been able to write silk. They also know how to thrash. The first record proved this where fuzzy, heavy noises gave way to some of the more gentle, reflective sounds; Hunter Mann, Cashier, Glass and Beast all became instant favourites.
But now there's a step for Pope to take, who are no longer the newcomers. This first full length release after a long hiatus is just the opportunity Pope need to prove that they're there with the best of their contemporaries, who have remained much more publicly active over the past few years.
On the very first EP release I was taken by Pope's sound. I listened to the intro of Hunter Mann 100 times over. But something niggled, I found Pope flaked as the songs went on. The second phase, the development, wasn't quite as good as the first impression. Most songs, despite great hooks and ambition, lacked something. Now in late 2017, True Talent Champion is a signal of intent.
"There's some songs that move into some new territory with the synths and different styles of songwriting"
Pope have developed as songwriters. They're getting there. The three public tracks from the record show the affect time has had on songwriting and recording. Despite claiming to be a band who lack the same confidence as before, "not knowing what the fuck they are doing", they've come back more complete, and able to better elaborate upon their ideas.
Out of all of the tracks to talk about, Talk Me Out Of It is the winner. "Before I drive with my eyes closed again, I'm a real true talent champion". It's the sort of opening line and chord progression Pope specialise in. But now this magic fragment seems to continue throughout the entire track. The verses develop and intrigue, and the guitar solo, well that's just the the most fitting of all endings.
It's a real development which puts Pope on the same level as great bands like Glasgow's PAWS and LA's Dante Elephante. The release of True Talent Champion is the biggest signal of intent from Pope that even though they're getting there, this is a band who one day control where there is.
Three things about True Talent Champion people don't know yet? // The A/C was broken most of the time in studio so Matt preferred to do his vocal takes naked. We would do group aerobics before every recording session. During recording we consumed 50 cheese pizzas, 37 shrimp po boys, 17 falafels, 11 gallons of crawfish ettoufe, 2 apples, 75 kombuchas, and 1 half eaten cannoli from the trash can.
From the early sessions to the final cut, how has this record evolved and changed? // This record was kind of put together in chunks over a period of about 2 years. After Fiction came out we got pretty busy touring with our other band Donovan Wolfington, and it was hard to find time to write new music let alone sit down for long recording sessions. There's songs that were written pretty immediately after Fiction came out so they have that sort of sound, then there's some songs that move into some new territory with the synths and different styles of songwriting.
"We were a lot more confident back then. Now we don't know what the fuck we're doing"
So you have been actively venturing towards new sounds? // We've definitely been trying to write more dynamic, "complete" feeling songs, and really trying to get the most out of ideas...but the sound of this new album is still what you'd probably expect from Pope. Maybe just a few more clean guitars than last time. As far as new sounds, we used some synth and piano on the record. While we probably won't be incorporating synth in our live show anytime soon, it was fun to see what we could do with those things in the studio to create some new textures and ear candy.
Despite new sounds do you still all share the same influences like Bedhead, GBV, and Nirvana on this new LP? // Since we recorded some of these songs right after Fiction, the influences were pretty similar, but even today we are listening to a lot of the same stuff. Matt has been more into hip hop lately. Stuff like SZA and Frank Ocean. Atticus listens to the Cleaners from Venus, Arthur Russell, and the DB's, Alex has been listening to Ariel Pink, Andy Shauf, Elliott Smith, and Roy Orbison.
In 2015 you told us that you will become the "biggest band in the world and enslave listeners with loud noise pop". How's that shaping up? // It's shaping up terribly thanks for asking.
When I asked Jonnie Common if he'd experienced somewhat restlessness this year he responded as if I was from another planet. "Hasn't everybody"? In what has truly been a restless year for the many, not just the few, Common's music remains a light at the end of the tunnel. Here's 6 things Common gets spot on in Restless followed by an interview. The 2016/2017 bugbear annual, this one's for the dreamers...!
Technology is fucking boring! There's nothing worse than being tied to your phone all day, every day. Wake up; Facebook check, Sky Sports News check, frustrating views on Twitter we still read; check. Common points out iOS maps, and yeah it's true I'd love to get lost again, I just don't have the time to! Then there's having to text friends back, and feeling bad for only replying in your head! Throw in a couple more bugbears like the fucking tragedy that fidget spinners are, and no longer is Common alone in his year of restlessness.
Self-loathing is a key ingredient when it comes to working for the man. Especially on the weekend. Nobody wants to pull a shift then, especially for no thanks and shit pay. But we still do it. Or at least have to do it, apparently. That's what makes Common's shout out to the self-employed so spot on, they're doing something about it all! Carpe Diem etc. etc. It reminds me that it's all about winning the small battles, not necessarily the war. As he says, there's got to be a better way to win in the self-esteem stakes!
Novelty gift items (and other things of apparent magazine popularity). Like paper pineapples on straws. This video highlights that wonderfully. The kind of gift items you get from Urban Outfitters, from fish-eye-lens cameras, vintage suitcase vinyl players, to skull shaped plastic ice cubes and scratch maps. Throw in a pair of circular tortoise shell glasses for the 20/20ers and pfffft! If it gives him the shivers, it bloody terrifies me!!
Student loans, annual statements, electricy bills. The three most terrifyingly mundane concepts for anybody in their mid to late 20's. Then there's no drinks outside after 10pm, and a sudden desperation for cafetieres. No to worry though, music shall always prevail throughout the restlessness such themes manifest!
We should probably talk specifically about the music, right? The minimal instrumentation is clearly the portrayal of restlessness. But there's a lot going on man, I can see the mind trying to connect things. Like the cracking drop beat towards the end where the rhythm flows full. And the trumpet solo, so noble and sweet. The spoken word/rap style. Then finally the Doo Wop singing section; a fully rounded musical performance.
For me this track is all about daydreaming of bigger and better places. Common chooses to take himself to 21st and Broadway, New York City. It's a good place to start. Again as Common states in the song, it's all about wanting the world to change, but not necessarily having to do it yourself. As far as social commentaries go about the times and places we live, Restless is Common's song writing masterpiece to date. Music in its most current form. Make sure you see his upcoming Autumn tour, and the interview below...
Straight to the new track Restless. What's the story behind it, have you had a restless year?
Hasn't everybody? I feel as time poor and anxiety rich as ever. Hyperbole in my marrow from too much social medi-urgh. It's been a very busy year and, because I am some kind of idiotic yo yo, I always want to be working on the project that doesn't happen to be requiring my attention at that moment. Champagne problems.
We think your style has changed a little since we last conversed, the spoken word/rap element really stands out on the new track, right? // Well, I reckon what's happened there is that my last couple of releases have been a tiny bit atypical and my half-rapped / half-spoken / half-sung (wait, how many halves is that?) might predate your introduction to me. I've been trimming that hedge for a while now but, yes, thank you kindly, it does rather pop against the minimal instrumentation of the single doesn't it?
"I like the "shout out to the self-employed" line 'cos I feel like it's an extra little connection to the crowd"
How did you and Mario Cruzado come up with the video? The outfits you are wearing make me feel restless! // Mario had some ideas involving multiple "Me's" and we decided it'd be much better to use real life people instead of copying and pasting me a few times. Which worked out great as everyone was amazing and full of inspired contributions. Props to Jo who featured in the vid and her refined theatre-producing chops for help with the outfits! I may or may not pop mine back on for the tour...
What's the line you most look forward to delivering when you play Restless live? Mine would be "if it would clear my name I'd take a bullet for the last known Rhino, just to be a hero".
I like the "shout out to the self-employed" line 'cos I feel like it's an extra little connection to the crowd. And to think I almost didn't put it on the record. I fancied it as something I would just keep for live shows but the night before going into the studio I came to my senses.
Finally, you're a Third Outing favourite from last Christmas' Yippee-Ki-Yay release alone, have you got another festive treat in store for us this year? // I'm afraid not, no. But I do hope to complete my Planet Hollywood trilogy at some point. And I look forward to 'Yippee...' getting another chance to do the rounds in a couple months.
Like many artists today, with Gorgeous Bully it's the conversation that you focus on. Not the technical quality. There is, however, one question we will try to answer: is Lo-Fi an aesthetic choice or the only way he knows how?
Thomas Crang AKA Gorgeous Bully has the kind of story many musicians today could easily relate to. He started the project in 2010 with his girlfriend but it never got anywhere (with her). She left the band but he kept the name and continued to write and record. The early material was very simple, if not to say common, mostly cool vocal melodies and guitar strums (here's a best of from 2010 to 2016).
Lo-Fi often means a rawer form of a musical idea. It has more to do with channeling emotions and feelings than precise technical feats. It's also a mirror our generation's Indie style. We're the generation of bedroom artists, home studios and music straight from the heart. The lucky ones like Alex G, Pinegrove, Frankie Cosmos to name but three managed to find relative success and give hope to an entire generation of young musicians not afraid to "show" themselves the way they are, like Thomas.
"Lo-Fi for that convenience and that warm feel"
Gorgeous Bully carried on with 4-track bedroom recordings and half-baked songs, and as he told us, will probably be "flogging this dead horse for years to come" too. But the next thing he confesses all but confirms what we already had in mind. Yes, Gorgeous Bully use Lo-Fi because that's what he does best, and truth is, he also doesn't know any better."Before I started recording and writing 'Great Blue' I hadn't written or really done anything for the previous year for multiple reasons (being homeless, a bit jaded and generally an idiot) so honestly, I just felt glad to be settled and writing, recording and releasing music again".
The Gallagher brothers still give each other shit, Radiohead headline festivals and Damon Albarn, well he has his own festival. Even in 2017 the pioneers of Britpop are very much out there and still somewhat relevant. To celebrate, here's 10 Britpop songs which make you extremely thankful for a new era of music.
The Day We Caught The Train - Ocean Colour Scene
Now, by no means are we saying any of these songs are bad, well, apart from the final one (you'll see). The point is that they sounds like a product of their time. The Day We Caught The Train, sadly, has aged about as well as an avocado bathroom suite. The pre-chorus sounds whingey, and the "Oh La La's" inspire as much sing-along as John Cage's 4'33 AKA silence.
Paranoid Android - Radiohead
The ultimate Marmite "Britpop" band. You either love Thom Yorke's freakish delivery or you think he and they are the most-overrated proposition of the era. Unlike some of their more famous single releases, Paranoid Android is one for the hard-core fans only. Continuous ostinatos and pained cries. We, admittedly and obviosuly, side more on the negative side of the Marmite.
Dolphin - Shed Seven
We love Shed Seven. I know, it's against the trend to say this, but they knew how to write a catchy tune. That and throw in some northern grit and Rick Witter swag, and you've got a decent band for the time and place. So in this case, it's more of a "worst of a decent bunch". But what really gets this track on the list is the swimming pool music video. A true shocker.
Walkaway - Cast
Somethings are just depressing. This song probably tops the list. What's more annoying is Cast did so many better songs, like Sandstorm - that was a beauty - it's just that this one remains the most famous. The sentiment might have been there, but thankfully the longevity wasn't. Maybe we're being too harsh, even Noel Gallagher found praise calling it a "religious experience" to watch Cast live. So, how many people went to the reunions? Thought so.
Wake Up Boo - The Boo Radleys
Simply. Just no. Thankfully it's no longer heard except on the odd breakfast bar TV commercial.
Chemical World - Blur
This is just like watching a young footballer before his prime. Like Ronaldo at Sporting, you can see where the later Blur's magic stemmed from, but for a single release this is more reserve team than world cup final. But having said that, it is still one of the songs on the list I do occasionally still listen to, albeit very very very rarely. Still, it makes the list.
Monday Morning - Pulp
Different Class really was a different class. But this song just reminds me of everything that is wrong with a Monday morning but without the sadistic enjoyment of dreariness. Frankly, that's the definition of grim. Could this be the only Pulp song that stagnates? Quite possibly, as even old Jarv's vocal realisations don't save it. Definitely a skipper, and you know it.
Come Back To What You Know - Embrace
Another mid-90's swimming pool music video. In fairness, this tune isn't so bad. It's more to do with the Indie power ballad than anything else, they were all at it! Don't you find they just seem to drag in the fast pace of the modern world? Credit where credit is due though, these guys knew when to call it quits with an absolute mega gig at Millennium Square back in 2005, and now drummer Mike Heaton owns a cracking chain pizza pubs. Result!
Animal Nitrate - Suede
The penultimate song and a somewhat of a dilemma. The way Brett Anderson's voice combines with the unique sound of the Suede signature guitar riff usually thrills me, but for some reason I can't help but think there really isn't much to this song at all. For the catchy guitar hook and the extremely repetitive lyricism kind of cancel each other out. In other words, this could have been a great song. But isn't.
The romanticism of the North. Grit and toughness. Hardened faces, softened souls. It's about personality, mentality and wits. Graham Fellows AKA John Shuttleworth suggested it's nice up North, Jack Cooper is the most recent artist to all but confirm it.
The Ultimate Painting co-founder hits the most northerly tones possible with this contemporary take on the blues. Sandgrown is a record of the North. A picture of mundane, repetitive, life. Forget George Formby and his stick of Blackpool rock, this is a real, current voice of the North. And it's execution appeals to the romanticism of it all, too. Cooper grasps sentiment perfectly. Yeah, it might be shit living in constant grey and rain, but it'll be rite, you know?
"I can't think of a more northern record really. It's about a town in the north of England and I think the subject matter is pretty specific to growing up in a Northern town. That's not to say the themes aren't universal, but I wouldn't really know. The older I get and the further I travel, the more English and the more Northern I feel"
The North comes across in Sandgrown both in instrumental delivery and lyricism. Titles such as North Of Anywhere and Stranded Fleetwood Blues speak for themselves. The lyrics portray the perfect picture of repetitive living, 9-5 mentalities, lounging about not really up to much and a constant battering of the seafront. Nothing portrays this more so than Gynn Square: //I stood there waiting on the pavement, Monday morning, it was early, I was yawning, it was boring, as the sea spray, washed the weekend from the concrete// a more perfect description of the North there is not.
But the delivery is also key. We're drenched in a dreamy reverb which makes the whole experience seem to last so much longer than it really does. The constant pedal of the organ adds a "Super Hans sense of dread", and for the first time I can really relate in my musical life; in Sandgrown the North of England seems to have found its own spin-off Blues music...that works!!
"I don't really think of genres as belonging anywhere in particular and if you go back far enough, it all essentially comes from the same place. Country music can be traced back to Irish and Scottish folk music"
For the time being it seems that Cooper has found his niche with this North England portrayal. Unlike other Indie groups from the region, and indeed his own successful partnership with Ultimate Painting band mate James Hoare, Sandgrown just seems to be so much more honest and unique proposition, delivered with a "Steppenwolf" angst and consciousness.
Look, don't listen to this album at a party for heaven's sake, leave it for the rainy Monday morning car journey or the longing stare out of the window at work. That's where it makes most sense. And if not, then don't worry, Ultimate Painting will be back soon with a 4th record anyway. But this, well this is something special, trust me.
Finally, Catholic Action's début record In Memory Of is due on October 20 on Modern Sky UK. So here's why you should be be thrilled about it.
Number 1: They make good covers. The band covered for instance the great Silver Jew's tune Honk If You're Lonely Tonight, which shows they have great music tastes and can nail a good cover. HONK!
Number 2: They have promising songs. The latest songs from the Glasgow boys inc. Propaganda, Sunday Driver, Doing Well are very encouraging. The band manage to churn very poppy melodies without being too predictable, definitely trying to shape their own sounds.
Number 3: They are Cribs fans. Because in an interview with Third Outing, lead singer Chris McCrory told us this: "We all think the first three albums by The Cribs are completely underrated masterpieces...Ryan Jarman is the ultimate anti-hero guitar player." We couldn't agree more, right!
Number 4: They are Scotland's greatest hope. Catholic Action have been around for some time now, and have already released good tunes. We loved the bass driven L.U.V, the chilled out The Shallows, New Year, and Catching Up. And as for one of the brightest tracks of year, Breakfast, which you need to wrap your lugs around below...
Number 5: They are extremely good live. That's right, Catholic Action know how to entertain a crowd and to take their songs to another level live. They made waves at SXSW in Austin, TX, and are about to get on the road in the UK and Europe. Catch them live before they get big!
Bobby Aherne and the rest of the No Monster Club crew are on a mission. Their resolution for the year seems to have been a thoughtful, gifting one. For on the first day of every month No Monster Club release a brand new single! Is it a big ask to keep that going and good? Not for No Monster Club; the only band I wanna be in. Here's why...
"No Monster Club is a slideshow of the grotesque and a gramophone of the absurd. Imagine Daniel Johnston representing Bora Bora at the Eurovision and finishing last"
- Bobby Aherne
Bobby Aherne, quite literally one of Ireland's most prolific song writers, never misses the mark when it comes to hyperbole. There's a metaphor for everything. So despite the flamboyancy and fairy tale like descriptions (seriously, who wouldn't want to see Daniel Johnston represent Bora Bora at Eurovision?), he and his group No Monster Club are preaching the extraordinary with their latest batch of tunes. One listen through this year's No Monster Club encyclopedia, and you'll blurt out my favourite, over-used descriptor. GENIUS. The whole thing sounds and seems like a whale of a time. Creating such a euphoric mood, isn't that just the best kind of band to be a part? Aherne thinks so...
"I have so much fun recording every song I make, and I never know which one is going to appeal to other people. It's always a nice surprise when one of them gets special attention, though. I'd love to know what the occasionally present magical ingredient was, so I could sprinkle it all over everything"
I've listened to the whole string of releases No Monster Club gift us on the first of every month, and so I'm gonna take a stab in the dark at finding that "magical ingredient". And that ingredient is...fun. The whole Monster catalogue is drenched in it. But it's fun without ever being novelty. Every song sounds as cool as the last, experimenting, but also utilising their unique band chemistry to create the ultimate bounce affect. It's impossible choosing where to start with No Monster Club, so lets concentrate on just two. Last month's single Faqir/Hex, and this month's Hiccup/Kalimanko.
You Are Here. This is a song that needs to be experienced. So put your coat on, head into the back garden when it's stormy out, stick this tune on, and enjoy. The ultimate 90's dance pop beat will greet you, with the perfect guitar accompaniment, and a chorus to singalong to n'all. It's a brilliant song. Then Kung Fu Buffet hits you. You'll think you're listen to Dr. Dog, but then you'll realise they haven't done anything this good for years. It's got to be No Monster Club. The lyrics grip, and again the chorus is just so cool. Epitomises the fun without novelty and another brilliant track.
"If you've never listened to music on a swing, you should give it a shot. There's no better feeling than when your swings are perfectly in sync with the rhythm. Try it with 'Hiccup' by They Shoot Horses Don't They. You'll get a thousand butterflies at the chorus. But yes, it'd be cool to play a gig at a funfair while everybody is on waltzers and stuff"
That was last month's gem. And this month's is just as good. Aherne's ideas continue to shine with Birthday Cake, proving that No Monster Club are comfortable with whatever they are playing. There's no real formula or style. Just look at the band's beach picture; organised chaos. There's no set plan for the music. Just fun, and what sounds right. Coincidental, then, that the real beauty on the release is called A Long Day At The Seaside.
Welcome to the sound of jungle beats, old cinematic strings and the cheekiest keyboard ostinatos in town. It's a marvelous theme that bounces along, and builds in rhythm and layers. Then, we find that magical ingredient Aherne is so determined to bottle. The perfect transition into beat, accompanied by the sound of ocean. We've arrived somewhere new. It's the same beat, but isolated and magnified, it takes on a whole new life. It's so brilliantly simple. And simply brilliant.
"We'll get around to doing more recordings together. It's been a few years since we did a band record, and the group has changed a lot since then. We did a charity cover of 'Remember You're A Womble', and I think that's pretty much it"
There are plenty of bands from the South-Coast of England who play it big locally, but struggle to thrive elsewhere. It's a tough corner to break-free from, for sure. But Gender Roles are managing to do just that with the release of their latest five track EP Planet X-Ray. Here's what we think, with a little insight from GR bass player Jared Tomkins...
Planet X-Ray is a major release for the Brighton Based Indie group Gender Roles. Released on Hanger Records earlier this year, it's the first sound-bite of a band who could and should break-free from the local Indie hotbed of Brighton and the rest of the south coast. Planet X-Ray offers the kind of powerful Indie Rock 'n' Roll which has seen the likes of British Sea Power and Royal Blood make it to the next level. Quite simply, it grabs you. It shakes your speakers. YES!!!
"We weren't sure how we wanted it to sound, or even how it was going to sound, but it turned out to be pretty much exactly what we were looking for. We've had some really positive feedback since it came out and we're really grateful for that"
Where many bands like Gender Roles go wrong is their lack of diversity in sound. By that, I mean the important art of contrast. On Planet X-Ray, Gender Roles get the balance between heavy thrash and sparse, punctuated, rhythm spot on. It allows for a narrative to come across in their songs. Yeah, we all like head banging, but we like hearing too. Much like the very first Paws record Cokefloat!, Gender Roles have produced a soundtrack which works across the entire spectrum of Indie music.
"Paws are great. I think if you get annoyed by being grouped with certain bands, you should probably change the genre or style of music that you play"
The latest release Chemicals is a perfect example of this. Drifting between a gripping verse and a rocking chorus, it's a very tight example of what's to come from Gender Roles. But, it's not the band's best. That accolade falls to their very first release Skin. The vocals on this track really are stand-out, in fact, it's the best example of how voice and instrumentation work together on the Planet X-Ray record. "You really got in underneath my skin...". 'Nuff said.
"Skin. First song we wrote, first song out and first video as well. The song is basically about the 'scars' that past relationships leave. When I wrote Skin I pictured it as a couple getting tattoos of each others names and breaking up.
The 'kiss of death' as they call it".
So, it does beg the question, what will happen to Gender Roles in the world of Indie music? Do they remain in Brighton and the south coast, or will the potential their debut Planet X-Ray shows propel them onto a greater stage? For a debut EP release, this record really is out of this world. A phenomenal introduction. But in reality, as bassist Jared Tomkins reminds us, there is a lot more to it than just releasing the best music.
"When you're a new band, you just want to play shows. You're going to be on first, so it's got to be somewhere you can get to by running for the train straight after work because you're not famous and still work for the man, and get back from easily because you're not famous and still work for the man".
© Photo: Piotr Filipek
Jon McKiel is the epitome of cool. No try-hard, no nuffin'. Just his own style and his own brand of music. No small talk necessary. The Canadian songwriter has recently returned with the release of his new record Memorial Ten Count on You've Changed Records.
You get very little out of McKiel in interview. His answers are short and precise. Flamboyancy isn't part of the McKiel deal. He leaves most of the talking to his music. So, if pictures can speak a thousand words, Memorial Ten Count can speak a zillion. With this latest release McKiel and co have stretched the boundaries of what an ordinary alternative-genre release might sound like. McKiel dabs in and out of his favourite genres from the blues melancholy to the thrash. But one underlying factor throughout is the unrivaled use of the guitar. One moment it jags the perfect rhythm, the next it sings the sweetest melody. This is McKiel's forte.
"Past records felt more like a collage with me playing most instruments and overdubbing, whereas this one was live off the floor with a band I've been playing with for a few years"
"Brothers came about from us just playing around during the recording session. I had that scale written as it sounds now and the rest of the arrangement was written on a break then re-arranged by Crocker"
And so, to the important introduction of McKiel's band. Steadily involved for a few years, this release is definitely that of a group, not a solo artist. It would be fair to say that the introduction of Jay Crocker on guitar, Shawn Dicey on bass and Aaron Mangle on drums has given McKiel the edge he was perhaps missing. It's definitely our favourite effort since the solemn tones heard on The Nature Of Things a few years back, and with the strong backing of the aforementioned members, it has allowed McKiel to stick to his strengths, get the guitar spot-on, and belt that incredible voice out. For that reason, then, Memory Cook has to be the best track on the record. Hands down.
Minnesota noughties throw-back rockers Remo Drive have just released their first record audaciously named Greatest Hits. May as well start at the top, eh? Here's what Third Outing thought of Remo Drive's effort after a conversation with front man Erik Paulson.
With the release of Greatest Hits, Remo Drive have proved that our starry eyed memories of yesteryear's Indie Rock 'n' Roll dream days are alive and kicking. Listening to Remo Drive I can't help but feel like I'm back in the summer of 2008; straight out of school, about to embark on years of mop head and questionable fashion decisions. But it was the best time of my life, and with this "greatest hits" release, Remo Drive prove to be my time machine to a better place. And so let's start then with the first single on the new Remo Drive record curiously entitled Art School.
"We love a lot of music from that era.
That riff in particular was originally much slower but
I decided to speed it up after listening to some older punk stuff"
The problem is, it's no longer 2009, and this era of Indie Rock 'n' Roll has all but disappeared. At least, when you hear it now, it feels somewhat dated, a bit like watching episodes of The Inbetweeners on E4. To judge this record on these terms seems somewhat unfair. But still, we kind of can't help it. Yes, the first single Art School is an excellent record when isolated from space and time. Though we don't quite concur with the older punk influence, it is one of the catchiest, upbeat, and sound-trackable records we've had on Third Outing this year. Still, something we can't escape...
...yep, we hate to judge a great record based on something as trivial as decade, but it just doesn't sit right for us as a contemporary piece of music. I'm listening to this and I'm thinking about bands such as Operahouse, Pigeon Detectives, Pete and the Pirates. Again, the sound track of my youth and the greatest of memories, but still memories non the less. I can't help but ask, where have Remo Drive been for the last 10 years to still create this kind of jaunting Indie record? Or am I just looking at this in the wrong way? Are Remo Drive actually genius? Are they the first noughties revivalists to get it absolutely spot on?
"Outside of our DIY community the our reception has always been lukewarm at best. There's a lot of opportunities
here though if you persist"
Alas, maybe I've got what's going on here. You need to delve further into the record to discover it, but this revivalist notion grabs hold when you uncover tracks further down the listing like Summertime, Name Brand, and particularly Yer Killin' Me. There's a punk spirit hidden behind an Indie guise. It's like a combination of thrash and melody, a little bit like what Paws are doing right now in Scotland, giving it some beans but keeping it accessible with melody. In short, a tanked up Indie song from the noughties with an originality from the now. That counts for Yer Killin' Me particularly.
"The end of Yer Killin Me was a very happy accident.I had the
bulk of the song written and that jam section came from
jamming one day.The acoustic ending came
about during the recording process"
This is the most beautiful song on the record, constructed in a way which keeps you on your toes throughout. Is it loud and in your face verses? Reflective Muse-esque choruses? Indie-jangle middle 8 sections? Or best of all, an unbelievably enticing stripped-back, acoustic outro that somehow encapsulates the energy of the entire record in one sweet and solemn cheerio farewell? It's all of these things, of course. But seriously, what an ending, and one which leads to a final verdict on Remo Drive. Yes, despite their initial out-dated execution of Indie Rock 'n' Roll, these guys are in fact the first serious revivalists of a time and space which needs to be celebrated a little more often in life.
The former college buds LVL UP, now signed to Sub Pop Records, have released their third outing Return To Love and are about to kick things off here in the UK. Here's a few words...
When we ask LVL UP about their second effort Hoodwink'd, they told us things straight: "we look back on it fondly but we are more interested in moving forward and working on new things". The "moving forward" comes with the release of Return To Love on the legendary American Indie label Sub Pop. This was last year. From Pitchfork to Rolling Stone the reviews are strong. But now the band is coming to the UK and they're ready...
LVL UP embody the career progression many bands would like to have. A very decent first record followed by a better second one. Influenced by Silver Jews and 90's Indie Rock, naturally it caught the attention of the media and a buzz formed. But they have also gone one step further than most other bands behind the scenes...
LVL UP founded a record label Double Double Whammy which is set to re-release on vinyl one of the best Indie records of last year, Hovvdy's Taster. That's a side project, for now their own release on Sub Pop takes priority. They've struck up an accord with the label and have worked together shaping the whole package; "Nick did most of the drawings and then he and Dave collaborated on the layout and design with some help from the Sub Pop design team. It was hard for us to agree on the final layout, but it happened". That's the best way to learn how to run a label, right? This has resulted in Return To Love maybe being their best effort yet.
"Having three different songwriters can make it feel more experimental
when we are all pulling in different directions"
We asked the question, is Return To Love the most experimental record so far? "Yes we definitely feel that way! Not sure why it turned out that way because we didn't necessarily intend to make a record like that, but I guess having three different songwriters can make it feel more experimental when we are all pulling in different directions". The band's philosophical lyrics have great impact on the way listeners approach the record, but the true consistency of the record is the genuine high-level quality of each track, not just the philosophy behind them.
Take a track such as Hidden Driver as an example. A combination of musical talent and vision creates the most important consistency of all: a record which makes you think from beginning to end. Between the mystic, wisdom and the theories, this is the band's sound developing towards their happy end point. "In the beginning it was an aesthetic decision born out of necessity, but lately our sound has been shaped by a desire to find unique sounds in the studio".
"SARN's brand of experimental pop is kissed by both a love for noise and Hip Hop. The results remain distinctly melodic and sweet, even when tackling tough issues". That's the description from label DEATHBOMB ARC who released SARN's return Postmodern Trash earlier this month...
"The songs on Postmodern Trash are centered around my youth and were written based on not only my experiences growing up, but those of the people around me. Obviously not all of it is factual, but the stories and sentiments were informed by life experiences" - SARN
SARN's latest record Postmodern Trash takes the idea of "noise and Hip Hop" to another level. This is no ordinary record. SARN, again having entered the studio with veteran John Vanderslice, decided to really let the screws loose this time. The former 'Go-Tell-It-To-The-Wallers' have merged a whole host of influences together, ranging from relaxing Asian sounds on Trail Marks to the rather robotic on Too Much Art.
"Everything was recorded through a vintage Neve console to analogue tape. We don’t demo songs or do any pre-production. It’s a very casual and relaxed atmosphere, but also very fast paced in a good way. All of the songs are first or second takes. I think we did six songs on the first day"
What we like about SARN is that despite their varied use of equipment, they manage to marriage each element so lovingly with the guitar. They are the experts at using the weird and wonderful. The aforementioned Neve Console, for example. But it all falls back to the familiar six stringed instrument somehow or other.
No Shade is definitely one of the more beautiful examples of this on the record, and it backs up our point perfectly. Hear how the piano almost falls like raindrops on the rhythm guitar. How the roof comes crashing in by the second verse, and the instruments join together under the thunder of the snare drum. Majestic.
"No Shade is probably my favorite. It’s a throwback to my younger years being carefree and reckless; skateboarding around town on those scorching summer days; the smell of sweat, hot asphalt and gas fumes; playing in shitty garage bands; going to punk/hardcore shows; tagging all night, evading police; consuming way too much sugar, and crashing just before dawn"
Photography by Andy Catlin©
After the release of his magical Die Hard Christmas song, it's been difficult for Third Outing to forget about Jonnie Common. Until then, the boy from Glasgow had been lying low since the release of Kitchen Sync last year, a record created exclusively using the sounds of his kitchen...
So we thought hey, let's give those who have missed out so far a little insider's knowledge on why Jonnie is really not so common after all. For Third Outing, it all began with our discovery of Leith based record label Song, By Toad, run by Matthew, who Common describes as the "Tony Wilson Of Leith, but a bit less difficult".
There were rumours on Facebook that the label had released a Die Hard themed Christmas record and with a natural curiosity, we took the click-bait. What ensued was one of the most engaging, well-written and Goddamn addictive Christmas classics we'd ever heard. Indeed, Yippee-Ki-Yay, Father Christmas was to be only the beginning of our fascination with Jonnie Common and his wonderful way with music.
"I had wanted to write a Christmas song based on Die Hard for forever. I tried once but what came out was way too shmultzy and I scrapped it. When I spoke to Bart from eagleowl about it, he encouraged me to give the Die Hard song another stab and I’m so glad he did.
It might be the most proper song I’ve ever written"
Jonnie Common is the expert of diversity, you discover that very quickly. If you like your artists to stick to one theme and then develop it, the boy isn't for you. His music is that of an all-rounder. Rarely does somebody engage with Electronic music, Acoustic music, Indie music so equally and well. For us, though, it's the way that he joins each of these genres together. There's a vibrancy which each of his records produces, a weird kind of low-decibel buzz, which energizes and gives each track a wave-like movement.
"I don’t listen to my albums much, but since I kind of use them as time capsules, when I do hear them, they always stir up a lot of memories and I get a real kick out of it"
There's two records which stand-out for us, and which we must talk about. First is the 2 track EP Photosynth. It's the pinnacle of this wave-like motion mentioned earlier. A maestro in the art of song writing, both tracks (Photosynth and Bits Of Maschinery) display masterful lyricism and orchestration, utilizing both voice and instrumentation to perfection. It marks Common's transition from the more typical sounds found in his earliest records, towards something altogether quite different. Namely, Kitchen Sync...
"As much as it could be viewed as a new direction for me, I don’t think it’s a sharp turn.
I’ve always put less traditional, perhaps less expected, sounds into my tracks but Kitchen Sync is certainly the most extreme example of that, by quite a way"
Kitchen Sync is a record which famously uses nothing but the items and appliances found in Common's kitchen. Remember that episode of the Fresh prince where he plays Hip Hop on the wine glasses? This is just like that, only to autistic standards. There's a delightful video on Youtube where Common explains the finer details of making the record. It's the ultimate relaxation record, proving Common's keen ear for a sound. Really, who knew an entire record could be made out of such noises, and actually sound so good?
"The pleasing sound of the oven door closing in an old flat set off a chain of events that resulted in me making an album exclusively from sounds in kitchens. It was a labour of love for sure, but I learned a lot doing it and it’s already led to a few possible avenues of development"
With this impressive and varying back catalogue, Jonnie Common has joined a great list of Scottish artists who have pioneered their own style and sound. Join the likes of Arab Strap, Frightened Rabbit, Paws; Common has adapted, inverted and reversed his sound time and time again, becoming a real mainstay of this generation of Scottish artists. It's a lesson in song writing, and that's something which requires skill.
Austin-based brothers Art Pop have just released their first outing This Is Art Pop. The band welcome a fresh new sound to the Indie world, defined by a certain musical mis-match. Art Pop is all about the deeper meaning. It's hard to define and that's what we like about it...
It's a simple story about two brothers who wanted to see what together their two minds could create. It was the day after a typically messy Parquet Courts gig in Austin, TX. The New York rockers Andrew Savage and Austin Brown spent most of the night yelling until they were hoarse down the microphone. That's all it took for future Art Pop duo Max and Miles Grossenbacher to go to the guitar shop and bought a $50 microphone set. They cleared out the closet and began recording that day. Two months later, the result is here for everybody to see, the release of This Is Art Pop.
"I hope that people will be able to hear the authenticity of the music"
Despite Art Pop's clear musical reference points (Car Seat Headrest, LCD Soundsystem, Parquet Courts, and on and on and on) they never quite cross the line into hipster-wallpaper. Thematically, This Is Art Pop is stuffed with so many sugarcoated melodies it’s almost headache-inducing. Yet there isn’t a single insubstantial lyric here. It’s a record about trying to make friends, heartbreak, insecurity; the crucial and personal subject matters which typically reflect the life and days of a soon-to-be grown-up rocker.
These carefully crafted words alternate visions of despair and anger with reconciliation and acceptance way beyond the efforts of many first releases. Hey Hey!! recalls the feeling "I was teenage scum beat down, broke, crooked numb/dumb". It's the downers mentality we relate to on a grey day. But then it switches, listen to Human In A Big City "All I Need Is Some..." where the band sing "I think I’ll be alright. I think I’ll be just fine. Cause I never needed you in my life. I was just looking for someone to make love to". They're back in the game.
This Is Art Pop reveals a voracious musical vocabulary that spans most things music has to offer. For the two classically trained pianists, the mishmash of sounds, textures and noise all mix together to create a little world of its own. It's the single most impressive thing Art Pop have risked, to simply record the record. Yes the influences can be heard, but it's subtle. They don't over-complicate the classical. They don't undersell the Indie.
For that reason the album proves both visionary and re-visionary, as the two ponder both their own and their country's past music idols, whilst looking ahead to new musical possibilities. The record follows no guidelines, it's not repetitive, instead there's a story line, style, experimentation, and its own distinct mood. It's hard to define, and as we said, that's what we like about them...
Splashh are a band who took their time to truly explore a whole new world of sounds. After reinventing most of their originals ideas to finally release the much anticipated Waiting A Lifetime, their sophomore record, we ask: was it worth the wait?
2016. On February 25, Splashh came out of their hibernation to release a statement across social media: "Pretty much want our record to sound like this". "This" referred to a live version on French television of Moon Safari by Air. "We're all big fans and there's definitely a few moments on the record you can hear it", confessed synth player Jaie Gonzales to Third Outing.
Now, fast forward eight months, and the band release their highly anticipated first single Rings. The song begins more or less on a standard Splashh style melody. It's fast, upbeat, and oozes noisy guitar sounds. At first, you may think Splashh are a good rock band. Plain and simple. But then you realise Rings is based upon volatility and a seeming relentless non-conformism too. Then at 1.24 sec, the track breaks into a new dynamic; a slow, atmospheric, space-pop whirlwind begins.
With Rings it sounds like the band's ethos is to adhere to rock-song schematics while scribbling between the lines. Here's what we mean by that. "I think with this record we wanted to show, to ourselves even, that there are still so many places you can go as a guitar oriented band that feel new and exciting. It's fun to see how far you can take it before you stop sounding like a guitar band", explains Jaie. Then it's this combination of analog keyboards, the dependable traditional rock instruments, guitar and bass, this combination with unpredictable chord progressions, various experimentation and the time spent in studio alongside sound mavericks such as Nicolas Vernhes at the Rare Book in Brooklyn that has shaped Waiting A Lifetime. That has given Splashh a new dimension. They are adhering, but those "between line scribbles" are outstanding.
"When we went into the studio we ended up reinventing all the ideas we had and it kind of brought us full circle. 'Rings' felt like an appropriate first taste of that"
Rings is indeed an example of a band whose imagination seems limitless. And then further noises such as See Through confirm this new dimension Splashh have now entered. "'Comfort' was a true bedroom DIY record", tells Jaie, whereas Waiting A Lifetime is without a doubt a studio record. The tag isn't derogatory. It simply means that the new record is full of overdubs, little subtleties and refinements. Take Gentle April and its big orchestra feel, as if the band are heading to a 90's Jason Pierce anthem kind of vibe!
However, it's the following number Waiting A Lifetime which is the song which best marks Splashh's transition. This is the track which is fully embedded with the band's old and new sound. It looks back to the past but also turns towards new ventures. That's the album's strength. It's a record which doesn't sound totally new to the long-time fan but succeeds where so many second records fail; experimenting without loosing its touch, its trade-sound.
Listen to the penultimate song Presumably Dead Arm on the new record Ed Buys Houses by Sidney Gish, and you understand the spirit in which the talented composer writes. It's her document of teenage life in Boston. Ed Buys Houses; the time-capsule of youth by Sidney Gish...
"I wanna know your password without changing them in preferences // Scrolling through click-bait endlessly // Valencia filters are passing the time". Sidney Gish documents the thoughts and emotions of the final years of teenage life 2017 with her New Year effort Ed Buys Houses. Moving away from sporadic flutters of Soundcloud releases, this time-capsule of youth is Gish's first crack at moulding her inspirations into the long-play format, and she has succeeded.
"I didn't grow up going on secret adventures and making decent art, I grew up awkwardly walking around the grocery store.
I wanted Ed Buys Houses to show that; not the story of a cool, rebellious youth, but the bleak, uncool youth that way more people are familiar with"
Gish summaries her intentions brilliantly here, confidently playing the realistic and relatable card which too many artists seem to avoid. This release is more intentional than everything else she has made to date. Yes, the record follows one concept of youth throughout, but it remains spontaneous and exciting. Numerous standout tracks including Buckets Of Fun, Vaudeville, and Friday Night Placebo, which entitce the ears with excellent song writing knack and capabilities. Then there are the tracks which soar to even higher heights. Hexagons And Other Fun Materials is one example, and Midnight Jingle (with its Intro) is the other.
"I love the dumb Intros to songs like Steal My Sunshine by Len, and Weezer's The Sweater Song, where they're just making stuff up and setting the scene. I could not pass up the idea of doing a banter skit by myself"
Midnight Jingle is the stand-out track on Ed buys Houses. Its comedic Intro, catchy bass and guitar riffs, plus the fact that it is so damn sing-along-able; it adds up to make a flagship recording on the album. Maybe it's something in Gish's voice, or maybe it's the beauty in simplicity, but you can't help but think that she has got this song writing thing down to the ground. Then she sings the words "single last minute little jingle". It's all complete; and all of this with a few instuments, a voice, and a Garage Band App! Like many young artists, the fact that the sound of Gish's late teenage years comes from a bedroom recording is incredible .
©Photography by Jess Gleeson
Ever wondered what it would be like if you went down to your local pub on a Friday night, gave everyone an instrument, and tried to make a band out of them? It would probably be a horrible noisy mess...
But what if the pub was a small pub of nine people and everyone in the pub was musically talented and happened to know how to play a set of perfectly matched instruments? What if the nine people in the pub had even played in other legendary Australian bands like Saskwatch, The Bamboos and Eagle and the Worm? Well if you took those nine people, chucked in a dash of psychedelia, some snarly guitar and a hell of a lot of stage presence, you might get something resembling Dorsal Fins!
Dorsal Fins are a Melbourne outfit lead by Liam McGorry, also trumpeter in Saskwatch. Their sound is a sort of orchestral-psychedelic indie rock. Their 2015 release Mind Renovation presents melodic guitars on tracks like Sun & Stars (a personal favourite), with psychedelic and rhythmic riffs reminiscent of Tame Impala, exemplified in the title track Mind Renovation.
Their more recent release, Digital Zodiac, has taken the band in a more ‘pop' direction, continuing the strong melodies found on earlier releases and combining it with a more conventional, and perhaps less psychedelic sound. They have moved in to indie-rock-pop territory reminiscent of Foster the People, or even late-stage-Angles-era Strokes kind of thing.
The lead track, Sedated is definitely worth a listen, and goes to the heart of the more pop end of the pop-rock spectrum, whilst Roll Back the Years takes it down a notch and provides one of the more laidback highlights of the album. Precious Hands is another highlight that harks back to the more psychedelic sound heard on their debut album.
"It's easy to get people going when they can see you're enjoying yourself. When you're playing in a large group of your mates, that's easy to do”
On any given track there are male voices, female voices, keys, guitars, multiple percussive sounds, electronic flourishes and brass. Their tracks bristle with an energy that only a band of so many people can provide. The number of people in the band is its defining feature, and makes for a hell of a live show. However, spending hours listening to Dorsal Fins in your headphones or through your speakers at home is like peering longingly at a caged albatross – you are just never going to see it in its full glory.
It's that time again where we look back at some of the greatest bands and artists of the year. Deciding who has made it onto the famous Third Outing Best 11 teamsheet is always a difficult task. It's certainly been an inspiring year for alternative music; we've seen the best of Indie, Pop, Punk, Rock & Roll and so much more. Unable to keep it to 11 places (this year subs and a manager are included), it's time to get the show on the road and introduce the Third Outing Best 11 of 2016...
1: Fletcher C Johnson Wilder Than Me Thank god Super Fan 99 was here to save us with the discovery of Fletch. In the earlier days, his voice presented itself with a more mellow and soft touch, the sounds very much associated with classic American DIY. This year Johnson returned with a new album Lesson In Tenderness and it's first release Wilder Than Me. His imagination is still vivid, the voice more unique and the guitars extra skewed.
2: Here's Andy Spreadin' Thin Spreadin' Thin was written with the listener in mind. "I am moving on and I'm doing just fine, I'll be ok I just need more time" sings Andy on the promising track which made waves earlier in the year on Third Outing. Here's Andy is a Kurt Cobain fan and you can hear the influence. He has hit the nail right on the head there. Some follow up to the 2015 Small & Scary, it has left us wondering what 2017 will bring...
3: YOWL Saturday Drag On Saturday Drag there is a line you might yell at someone across an empty room, half-drunk paranoiac. "I went to the doctor and I said I'm scared again. Now I am scared of everyone". But it’s not hollered, it’s sung, almost poetically so, by YOWL's front man Gabriel Byrde. The band might at first sound apathetic like they don't really care. But listen closely, their music goes beyond. Saturday Drag is the helpless song of the year.
4: Jackson Reed Goodbye Endless Summer Across four songs Jackson Reed's The November Gales dabbles in serious deadpan surrealism. "I want to take a trip just to prove I exist", he whispers on Goodbye Endless Summer. Released on Deadplant Records, Reed's play is almost perfectly delivered, full of little sounds and details which take time to master. Discovering his music in the way only the best songwriters can, Reed is all about taking the journeys and living life.
5: Navy Gangs Special Gland 2016 marked the release of Navy Gangs' highly anticipated new EP. Full of youthful exuberance and wrapped in delicious halos of intoxicating reverb, ear-shredding fuzz and occasional pensive melancholia, this release was one of the richest doses of bittersweet nostalgia to fill your ears this year. The most genuinely Lo-Fi band, you could say they bleed it, they could develop into a classic...watch this space.
6: Cigarettes After Sex K Masters in the art of romance, melancholy and the seductive side of Rock and Roll, Cigarettes After Sex have had a great 2016. K is the soft but strong new release which Third Outing sawplayed to perfection in front of an adoring crowd earlier this year. It's little wonder why CAS have become a huge success. Front man Greg Gonzales is like Thiago Motta from PSG. He is relaxed, knows what he's doing, and delivers the right play every single time.
7: Catholic Action L.U.V The Scottish Glam Rock outfit Catholic Action shared the L.U.V this year with their simple pop structures and outstanding sense of melody. The first notes of the release is a pure clarion call, something exciting is truly about to go down. After such a year we're certain their self-concious and witty atmosphere is the perfect tonic to creating the perfect pop song. Catholic Action are the ones to keep the faith in for 2017.
8: The Orielles Jobin The Orielles have some serious sing along potential and Jobin is a real anthem track. From the opening words, and the lovely downward inflection on the word 'Brother' in the opening line, you find yourself surfing the waterfall of The Orielles. Though the Jobin EP, released on Art Is Hard Records, is only three tracks long, it's a record which portrays great diversity. Thankfully a new release is planned for next year...
9: Sammy Hale Hollywood Hills There's no doubt about it, Sammy Hale's debut LP Post Cult is a magnificent piece of work. His voice powers above all. It's a strong, raucous growl which will become his signature, and one which he rightly compares to Joshua Tillman AKA Father John Misty. Song after song on the record stand out in their own right as the moment to savour, but Hollywood Hills is our one to remember...
10: TV Girl Taking What's Not yours Inspired + (Sharp Bursts Of Colour; TV Girl) = Cool. That's the equation we formulated to describe the sensational TV Girl earlier this year. They are no ordinary group. With a sweet distinct mixture of musical genres all effortlessly fitting into one certain style and sense of cool, Third Outing regard this as one of the best songs of the year. Even the music video is a testament to how the group makes colour work for them!
11: SKiNNER Chair Kicker It's the music you wanna hear when you're trying to grasp the essence of life. Real, rough, ready, cheap poetry which tells the story of so many young people. But SKiNNER isn't necessarily trying to define the sound of his generation, he's just being it. Chair Kicker is the ultimate example from SKiNNER's standout 2016 release SKINT. Our final player in the Third Outing Best 11 of the year, it can only be SKiNNER...
SUB: Mal Devisa Fire Sometimes 11 selections just isn't enough. Equally as deserving in the starting line up is Mal Devisa for her incredible 2016 release Kiid. Lyricism, voice and delivery. Rarely do all three come together as the "package deal" and rarely do they come together with such abundance and creativity. Fire has to be one of the stand outs of the year; feel her pain, her sorrow, her optimism, until a final note which just kills you.
SUB: Hush Moss It Takes A Lot Hush Moss were a relatively unknown quantity before the release of It Takes A Lot, but it's already proved to be the soundtrack of the summer for Third Outing. There's some seriously impressive skills on show here, and not least from the blinding rhythm across the bass lines and percussion. Expect a lot more from our Nacho Libre loving friends over the next year...
SUB: Hovvdy In My Head Though the music can be labelled as Indie Rock, Hovvdy managed to create a world of their own this year. Pure toned, with beautifully odd, angular and inverted melodies, there's another side to Hovvdy's sound. When you suss the formula out, you understand what's going on. It's an experiment and venture towards something new. Our final song of the year is In My Head; almost the perfect song.
Manager: Healthy Eating Records Finally it's time for the Record Label of the year. We've been lucky enough to work with some of the best Indie labels around over the past 12 months, but few shine brighter than Healthy Eating Records. The Leeds based DIY label have been responsible for some of the best releases of recent times including Third Outing favourites Chest Pains and the infamous Yorkshire Puddings compilation.
Photography by Song By Toad Records©
We end our music diaries adventure with the making of a record from the perspective of the Record Label. Song By Toad Records is "Scotland’s most perversely idiosyncratic record label". Set up by Matthew Young, it's one of Edinburgh's best spots to record live sessions, play a gig, and in their little studio in leith, finally lay down that record. Here's the story behind Song By Toad's last release, the Split 12" Vol.5, and the journey it made all the way to New York City...
"Last year Mrs. Toad and I moved to New York for her work, and I took the opportunity to work with my brother (who lives there) and Tom from Gold Flake Paint (who likes a lot of the same New York bands that I do) to make a Split 12". This is the one and only ever release on Toad Flake Paint Records.
I sort of ended up being pals with Tom from before I ever met him, I think, in that way that can happen in the internet era. When he moved to Edinburgh for a year or so we hung out more, meeting at gigs a lot, as tends to happen in Edinburgh where the gig-going community is actually very small. Then he treacherously moved through to Glasgow at which point he was totally dead to me and has been ever since"*.
(*This may be a slight exaggeration.)
"Despite this, when Mrs. Toad and I arranged to move to New York for three months at the end of 2015, and the idea of doing a Split 12” locally whilst we were there was born, Tom made perfect sense as someone to collaborate with on the release, given his own affinity with many of the bands I love from that part of the world.
I’ve always admired Gold Flake Paint as a blog. Tom never seems to really care about fame or fashion, he just writes with constant energy and enthusiasm about the stuff he himself likes the most, which gives the blog a sincerity and integrity often lacking elsewhere on the internet, as well as a sort of sonic cohesion as well. In terms of where to record the actual music, well that was solved by the fantastic coincidence that my brother just happens to be a professional sound engineer. And just happens to live in New York. And just happens to have access to the studio at the National Opera Centre".
"Hanging out with my wee brother, talking bollocks about football, Star Wars and music stuff...what an incredible three months"!
"My family have always been pretty much my best friends. We moved around a lot while we were growing up so we were basically the only constants in one another’s lives, and that meant our relationships with one another were always more important than those with the people around us, who were always changing. This is the first time Ben and I have actually spent anything like this much time together since I left for university though, and the chance to just hang out, never mind work together, was fantastic.
Living in Red Hook, going to the Bait & Tackle, Brooklyn Crab, Hometown Barbecue, Rocky Sullivan’s, The Silent Barn, Fort Defiance for huevos rancheros, to see the Islanders at the Barclays Centre, taking the water taxi across to Manhattan and hanging out with my wee brother, talking bollocks about football, Star Wars and music stuff...what an incredible three months"!
"The interesting thing about recording in a proper studio, apart from me being intimidated by my brother’s sheer professionalism and actual, genuine expertise of course, was how different the atmosphere was. When we record at home the bands just naturally take it easy - they’re just visiting our house after all. But in the studio there was only really my ‘natural charm’ to keep the atmosphere relaxed, and suddenly because of the formality of the setup things like monitoring and proper tracking took on more importance than they ever do in someone’s living room.
Today's Music Diaries comes from Lunar Quiet who have the most difficult story in Rock and Roll to tell. Like some of the greatest bands of all time; Nirvana and Joy Division to name but a few, Lunar Quiet have lost their enigmatic front man Tom Knights too early. Here's the life of Lunar Quiet as told by guitarist and co-founder Ben Thompson...
"Lunar Quiet began in the late Autumn of 2015. Tom Knights and I began jamming and formed as a bedroom project. We were writing little dream pop Lo-Fi songs, drawing inspiration from the likes of Beach Fossils, DIIV, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, The Cure, and many more. After writing what was to be our first single Endless Migraine, Tom and I set out to look for other members to form a full band and take our aspirations further. Around early December we found George Miles through mutual friends. Straight away we connected and he became our drummer within the first practice. Then, around early January, Lena Pilshofer joined on bass and immediately began as a full band and became Lunar Quiet.
Instantly, Tom became the focal point of the band, not only because of his talent to write songs, but his passion, emotion and desire was beyond anything we had ever witnessed as individuals or musicians. He lived and breathed music, every spare time he got he spent writing, listening, watching and exploring music. He wrote countless poems, lyrics, and quotes in books that was just filled with absolute genius. Tom was one of those people that really brought the best out of you and he brought the best out of us not only creatively but as people".
"Music was his therapy and his nirvana, and it was in the late summer and early October we wrote our most important songs"
"Tom and I wrote and jammed as much as we could, whenever we could. We would take our ideas to rehearsals and show Lena and George, where we would then turn each idea into songs. About 60% of Lunar Quiet practise’s were disasters, mostly because of Tom’s incredible passion, something that you have to step back and realise just how creative and how incredibly talented he was. This abundance of creativity drove him to many breakdowns, often storming out, kicking things, shouting and always breaking strings (something Tom did almost every time he played guitar). He strived for perfection. Though he never once said anything bad towards us, nor would he direct his anger towards us. Tom was the kindest, most loyal and loving person you could ever meet".
"40% of good practises we did have, well they were bloody good! But it was becoming very noticeable, especially in the last few months we had with Tom, that his battle with mental health issues was taking a toll on him; but music was his therapy and his nirvana, and it was in the late Summer and early October we wrote our most important songs. Firstly She’s Septic, and then the last song we wrote as a band Happy Couple, a song which Tom, and all of us, felt we had reached the direction we wanted to get to from the start. It was a song which summed up Lunar Quiet, a song that summed us up as individuals and summed up Tom".
"In time we will carry on our music together, but as a new project, leaving Lunar Quiet to live on in Tom's name"
"We were making plans to record these songs early next year as a small EP, however it was on the 23rd of October this year that with a heavy heart we lost our dear Tom. A shock and tragedy to all his friends, family, and loved ones. Something we will all never forget, and a person who we will all never forget. Someone who will live on in all our hearts forever. Tom will continue to inspire us everyday. In time we will carry on our music together, but as a new project, leaving Lunar Quiet to live on in Tom's name.
We have phone recordings of our last songs She’s Septic and Happy Couple, and plan to hopefully use them for something in the future as well. We are also putting a special charity memorial gig on in our hometown of Brighton which is dedicated to Tom Knights. We will have all our close friends bands playing the night and will be selling Art and Lunar Quiet merchandise too. For now, sleep well Tom, we love and miss you everyday. Until the next song, rest peacefully".
Music videos, promotion, management. It's all part of modern-day band requirements. But self-recording an entire LP must be the next step on the DIY chain. This month, London-based indie-folk-rock six-piece The No Sorrows release their first LP. Inspired by everyone from Fairport Convention to Felt; the album's warm, analogue sound is pure 1972. And it's hardly surprising given that they recorded it in a collapsing farmhouse in rural France. We asked frontman Tom Huddleston to give us a little insight into the making the record...
Recording The No Sorrows: A Day in the Life
"The final day of recording The No Sorrows was the hardest work I've ever done. It was the day we realised that we were on the verge of completing a record that, against the odds, we were genuinely proud of. But we also knew that if we didn't get our asses in gear and work until stupid o'clock in the morning, it would all be for nothing.
With one exception, and if you've ever seen us play you'll know who that is, the members of The No Sorrows are all enthusiastic amateurs with busy day jobs: it took us two years to play our first gig, three to make a demo and six to get around to making this record. But when the time came, we approached it the same way we do everything else: we made a vague but really fun-sounding plan, crossed our fingers and hoped for the best".
"I always imagined that most bands make their first record close to home, in a local studio they've practiced in for years. We made ours in a tumbledown farmhouse smack in the middle of France, owned by a couple of my relatives. There were snakes in the grass and spiders in the outdoor shower, and there weren't enough beds so some of us had to camp in the garden. We carted all our gear; kit, amps, recording equipment, down from London in a splitter van, allowing ourselves ten days in total: two to set up and eight to record. If we didn't get it down in that time, we wouldn't get it at all".
"The first nine days went pretty smoothly; they were hard work, of course, but we could feel it coming together. We shifted the furniture out of the living room and laid mattresses up against the windows, creating a makeshift recording booth in the front hallway and running wires under the door. We laid down the drums and bass first before starting on the acoustic guitar, the violin and the vocals. When I wasn't needed I spent my time pottering around with a portable recorder, picking up the ambient sounds around the farmhouse; sheep in the next door field, frogs in the pond, kids playing in the lake down the road. We wanted the record to sound like the place it was made".
"But by the dawn of the final day, we were started to panic. We'd laid down a few electric guitar tracks but they weren't close to done, and the vocals were only about 60% finished. What's worse, we'd ambitiously carted down every single instrument we could lay our hands on; mandolins, banjos, oboes, percussion, a saxophone, even a bloody didgeridoo, and were determined to find room for every last one of them (the didj never made it, because we're not idiots).
By 2 in the afternoon we were working flat out, by 4 we were drunk, and by 8 we were in another world entirely, laughing hysterically as we added maracas, frying pans, wine glasses and cheese graters to the last song on the album (listen and you'll hear them all). But somehow we managed to pull it together, and by 3 am we were floating on our backs in the aforementioned lake, watching shooting stars rocket overhead and trying not to fall asleep and drown.
The making of a music video. Every band has to go through it. Sometimes they're multi-million dollar productions, but for the vast majority in this increasingly DIY world of music, bands can no longer just be bands. They have to be promoters, A&R, tour managers, and now more than ever; they have to be music video producers. Here's the diary of Music and Medicine who decided to make a video for their first single Waves. Their goal was simple: to make a DIY music video that didn't look like a DIY music video. Here is the 6 months that followed...
Day 1: Planning
"It was March this year when we started talking about the project; discussing what we could do with it and sessioning band videos online like Crazytown Butterfly. We had some ideas and we knew what we didn’t want. No Indie, forest, cold-breath visuals. No student-video acting malarkey. The notes from an ‘Ideas’ meeting, March 2016, followed: the visuals need to fit the track, do we bother with a storyline vibe or keep it real vague? And finally, what's the set and where are we going to film?
After chucking around various hallucinatory narratives, we decided to keep it real simple and go for a live band shoot. We bought a strobe light and had a few ideas for putting Ben’s head in a box of LED’S, but in the end it just seemed unnecessary. We could mess with the footage in post-production. Enough talking".
"Check that relative you know with a decent pension plan and ask them if they’ve got a basic DSLR kicking about"
Day 5: Materials
"First things first, we didn’t have a camera. So we borrowed one. Check that relative you know with a decent pension plan and ask them if they’ve got a basic DSLR kicking about. We ended up using two different cameras, which actually wasn’t ideal when it came to mixing footage. Next time we’ll stick to one.
As averagely computer literate people, we set about finding some editing software and learning it. Will has had some experience with video stuff before, so he took point on that. We found splitting tasks was key in getting this project off the ground.
Finally, we needed a place to do it. Rolling generators into a local building site and hanging strip lights from dumper trucks sounds sweet as, but we knew the filming was going to take a while, so we chose to film in Mac’s basement. We decided to shoot in a location we could control; it wasn’t that MTV but there’s a lot you can do in post-production to spice things up".
Day 30: Doing
"Things got different once we got the cameras out, started getting footage and watching it back. Problems occurred: the lighting wasn’t working, my jumper made me look like a schmuck and we shot four takes with the mic lead blatantly unplugged. But that’s the game. Some problems you can solve and some you will have to get around. Side note: if you're googling a camera issue and someone’s doing his hair in the mirror (Ben), tell them to get on it mate. There’s a lot to do, work together.
Over the two days of shooting we learnt some lessons. Always make sure you’re keeping an eye on the footage that you’re getting. Always have an extra friend and camera operator on hand to get those full band shots. Never change your clothes halfway through. For us, once the lighting and gear was set up it was surprisingly chill. We shot a live run-through of the song about ten times from different angles and that was plenty of footage".
"If you’re going to have a crack at making a video yourself, good luck, next time it will all be easier or maybe just bigger and more challenging, but no worries you’ll be famous by then"
Many Days Later: Editing
"After some intense discussions (compromise is key), we finally pinpointed a style we were all happy with. Then came the time to work it, work it and work it. We kept Bombay mix and coffee stacked up and the child prodigies of YouTube on tab when the software technicalities got too much for us. Side note: Don’t take your stylistic differences down the pub. It’s not productive, you only talk breeze down the pub, and everyone will hate you for it".
"Everything must come to an end. Although our finished product is different from how we first imagined it, it’s something we’re all dead chuffed with. So if you’re going to have a crack at making a video yourself, good luck, it will be well worth it, and the next time it will all be easier. Or maybe just bigger and more challenging but no worries you’ll be famous by then".